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'Love cost dearly' warns CBA over Valentine's Day romance scams
Wed, 14th Feb 2024

Commonwealth Bank Australia (CBA) advises that around Valentine's Day, the number of unsuspecting Australians falling victim to romance scams increases. The bank's 'Stop. Check. Reject.' campaign aims to increase personal cybersecurity awareness among its customers during this particularly vulnerable period. Romance scams consistently rank among the top three digital scam types affecting CBA customers in terms of financial damage.

CBA's compiled data indicates an upsurge in exploitation attempts on customers emotionally susceptible to deception, particularly around the Valentine's Day period. Scammers exploit the emotional vulnerability of individuals seeking romance or companionship to deceive them into parting with their money.

Despite an overall decrease in scam losses in Australia, Scamwatch's data reveals that Australians lost over AUD $40 million to romance scams in 2022. Interestingly, women were found to be more susceptible than men, losing double the amount, totalling AUD $27 million, compared to men totalling AUD $13.5 million.

James Roberts, Commonwealth Bank's General Manager of Fraud and Scams Strategy and Governance, spoke about how these scams often start innocuously. According to Roberts, any interaction on social media or dating apps could potentially be a con. Often, it might start as a nefarious friend request on Facebook, an unknown number sending a message on WhatsApp, or a harmless-looking message on a dating app.

Roberts warned, "Scammers are the most opportunistic type of criminals and will take advantage of people looking for romantic relationships around Valentine's Day." This statement undermines the significance of staying vigilant throughout the year, particularly during sentimental periods when individuals may be more susceptible to deceptive romantic overtures.

"Scammers usually create fake online and social media identities designed to lure you in. Once they have gained your trust, often investing several months of frequent online conversations, they use your newfound relationship to request that you send them money or gifts," says James Roberts. 

The increase in romance scams during Valentine's Day season serves as a clear warning to Australians to exercise caution when engaging with prospective romantic connections, particularly online. CBA's 'Stop. Check. Reject.' initiative reinforces the necessity of committing to safe online practices, thereby protecting oneself from potential emotional and financial harm.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, commonly known as CommBank, is one of the largest banks in Australia and a leading provider of integrated financial services, including retail, business, and institutional banking, funds management, superannuation, insurance, investment, and broking services. It was founded in 1911 by the Australian government and later privatized in 1991.

Commonwealth Bank serves around 15 million customers, has more than 800,000 shareholders, and operates a large network of branches and ATMs across Australia. It has also expanded its operations internationally, particularly in New Zealand, Asia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.